Dormice are small animals, weighing about the same as two £1 coins. They are bright golden in colour, with a thick furry tail and large black eyes.
Dormice are easily distinguished from other mammals but they are nocturnal so you are very unlikely to come across them on a stroll in the countryside.
Dormice are mainly ancient woodland specialists, preferring mature deciduous woodland with a wide variety of tree and shrub species. In South Wales they are often found in other habitats, including mature hedgerows, reedbeds, heathland and scrub habitats.
They feed on flowers, pollen, fruit, insects and ripe nuts, and require a continuous availability of food throughout spring and summer; therefore hazel, honeysuckle, bramble and oak are particularly important in providing food.
Dormice are rare through most of the British Isles but tend to be more common in the south and west - its less wet and cold. Dormice are a protected species - its illegal to disturb them or the places that they live.
Dormice in the Vale
Our knowledge of dormouse distribution in the Vale of Glamorgan and across the whole of South Wales is still quite poor and we need volunteers and community groups to help out with a bit of detective work.
We want people to go out looking for discarded hazelnut shells in their local woodlands and along hedgerows. Like many other small mammals, dormice eat hazelnuts, which they open in their own particular way leaving the shell with very distinctive marks.
With a little bit of practice volunteers can learn to identify which nuts dormice have opened.
The south Wales dormouse survey is a joint project between 14 local authorities in south Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales.
Bridgend County Borough Council has produced a dormouse survey information pack that provides volunteers with all the information required to take part in the survey. A second survey pack has also been produced which gives tips on how to organise a nut hunt as part of a school or community group event.
The make space for wildlife project is an event for schools held at Porthkerry Country Park. Other training events are also being held across the South Wales area.
- South Wales Dormouse Survey